Virginia R. Pettijohn, 75, amateur radio enthusiast

May 14, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Virginia R. Pettijohn, an amateur radio operator who met her future husband via short wave radio, died Tuesday of heart failure at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Glen Arm resident was 75.

In 1990, she married Francis J. Pettijohn, a professor emeritus of geology at the Johns Hopkins University who operated ham radio station WB3CBC and shared her interest in radio.

"Her call letters were W3UWT, and even though she lived in Glen Arm and I lived in Towson, not by any means a long distance transmission, I liked the sound of her voice," Mr. Pettijohn said.

The former Virginia Romberger went to work during World War II as an engineering draftsman and technical illustrator for Bendix Radio on East Joppa Road in Towson, where she was the only woman in the drafting room and worked on radar and other classified wartime projects.

"She got interested in amateur radio while at Bendix and was the only lady in a group of men who were studying for their radio license," her husband said.

After leaving Bendix in the 1960s, she worked for Professional Electronics of Baltimore, where she prepared service manuals for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites.

She was an artist who worked in watercolors and gemstones. She not only designed jewelry, but did all of the work, including cutting, polishing and faceting the finished stones.

She was born in Elizabethville, Pa., and moved to Sunbury, Pa., where she attended school until her family moved to Washington, D.C., when her father took a position with the Department of Agriculture.

After the family returned to Sunbury, she graduated from the high school there in 1937. She then studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

In 1939, she married Lee H. Reber and moved to Baltimore. Mr. Reber, a manager for Greyhound Bus Co., died in 1978.

She was a member of the Chesapeake Gem and Mineral Society, the Quarter Century Wireless Association and the Baltimore Amateur Radio Club.

She had been a member for many years of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3911 Sweet Air Road in Phoenix, where a memorial service was to be held at 2 p.m. today.

Other survivors include a brother, William Romberger of Bethesda; two nephews; and a niece.

Memorial donations may be made to the Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, 1620 McElderry St., Room 1109, Baltimore 21205.

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